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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
1 Corinthians 12

 

 

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Verse 1

34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

Ver. 1. I would not have you ignorant] To wit, of the only author and true end of them, "lest ye be vainly puffed up by your fleshly mind," Colossians 2:18. Ignorance breeds pride, Revelation 3:17.


Verse 2

2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

Ver. 2. Even as ye were led] It is the misery of a natural man that hath not his heart stablished with grace, to be carried away as he is led, to be wherried about with every wind of doctrine, to have no mould but what the next seducer casteth him into; being blown like a glass into this or that shape, at the pleasure of his breath.


Verse 3

3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

Ver. 3. Calleth Jesus accursed] As the wicked Jews do in this day in their daily prayers and abbreviature; and as the Gentiles did of old, and these Corinthians among the rest. But now they would rather die than do so; as Pliny writes to Trajan the emperor, that he could never force any that were Christians indeed, either to invocate the gods, or to do sacrifice before the emperor’s image, or to curse Christ, Quorum nihil cogi posse dicuntur qui sunt revera Christiani. (Plin. Epist.)

And that no man can say, &c.] That is, no man can, with the fiducial assent of his heart, acknowledge Christ to be the only Lord, whom he is to worship by the same impulsions, by which another curses aud blasphemes him, but by such peculiar motives as are suggested and revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost.


Verse 4

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

Ver. 4. But the same Spirit] As the divers smell of flowers come from the same influence, and the divers sounds in the organ from the same breath.


Verse 5

5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

Ver. 5. Differences of administrations] i.e. Ecclesiastical functions, all of them the dona honoraria of the Lord Christ, Ephesians 4:8-11.


Verse 6

6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

Ver. 6. Diversities of operations] The Holy Ghost may use one of less grace to do more good than one of more; though he delights to honour those of most sincerity with most success, as 1 Corinthians 15:10.


Verse 7

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Ver. 7. To profit withal] We are neither born nor born again for ourselves. If we be not fit to serve the body, neither are we fit to be of the body; he is not a saint that seeketh not communion of saints. Pudeat illos, qui ita in studiis se abdiderunt, ut ad vitam communem nullum fructum ferre possint, saith Cicero. They may well be ashamed that employ not their talents for a public good. {a} The Greek word το συμφερον importeth such a kind of profit, as redounds to community. It seemeth to be a metaphor from bees, that bring all the honey they can get to the common hive.

{a} Paulum sepultae distat inertiae celata virtus. Hor.


Verse 8

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

Ver. 8. The word of wisdom] "The tongue of the learned," to time a word, Isaiah 50:4, to set it upon its circumferences, Proverbs 25:11, to declare unto man his righteousness, when not one of a thousand can do it like him, Job 33:23.

The word of knowledge] This, say some, is the doctor’s office, as the former word of wisdom is the pastor’s (Mr Edwards). But the essential difference between pastors and doctors in each congregation is much denied by many learned and good divines. Others by "the word of wisdom" will have understood knowledge infused by divine revelation; as by "the word of knowledge," that knowledge that is acquired by study and industry. (Barlow. Taylor upon Titus.)


Verse 9

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

Ver. 9. To another faith] The faith of miracles, which a man may have, and yet miscarry, 1 Corinthians 13:2. So doth not any one that hath the faith of God’s elect; that fails not, Luke 22:32. Some say the apostle here meaneth historical faith; and this seems the more probable, because he speaketh of the working of miracles, 1 Corinthians 12:10.


Verse 10

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Ver. 10. Discerning of spirits] They discerned not men’s hearts of themselves (for to God only), but by a special work of God’s Spirit discovering them to their eyes, as Peter discerned Ananias, and afterwards Simon Magus, whom Philip mistook and baptized. (Rolloc. de Vocatione.)


Verse 11

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Ver. 11. One and the self-same Spirit] Who yet is called the seven spirits of God, Revelation 1:4, for his manifold and various operations.

Dividing to every man severally, as he will] It is reported that in Luther’s house was found written, Res et verba Philippus. Res sine verbis Lutherus. Verba sine re Erasmus. Everyone hath his own share; all are not alike gifted; yet by "one and the self-same Spirit," that one and that self-same Spirit, as the Greek text runs, repeating the article, very elegantly and emphatically, το εν και το αυτο πρευμα..


Verse 12

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

Ver. 12. So also is Christ] Mystical Christ, the Church. Christ the Saviour of his body {Ephesians 5:23} accounts not himself complete without his Church, Ephesians 1:23. So God is called Jacob, Psalms 24:6.


Verse 13

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Ver. 13. For by one Spirit, &c.] By the testimony of the two sacraments, whereof we all partake, the apostle proveth that we are all but one body, and should therefore as bees bring all our honey to the common hive.

Are we all baptized] The apostles received all into the Church that believed and were baptized, without particular probation for some days, weeks, months, or years, and entering into a private solemn covenant.

And have been all made to drink] Potionati sumus, We have drunk, saith Piscator, and so prove ourselves to be of the corporation and company of believers. But what was the meaning of that passage in the old Church catechism, "There are but two sacraments only, as generally necessary," &c. Are there any more than two, though not absolutely and generally necessary to all men in all times, states, and conditions whatsoever? The Papists themselves say, that five of their sacraments at least are not generally necessary.


Verse 14

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

Ver. 14. Not one member, but many] As man’s body curiously wrought, and as it were by the book, Psalms 139:16. Had God left out an eye or hand in his common place book (saith one) thou hadst wanted it.


Verse 15

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

Ver. 15. If the foot should say, &c.] Inferiors must not envy those above them, but be content, since it is God that cutteth us out several conditions; and a scavenger may honour God in his place, as well as a minister in his.


Verse 16

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

Ver. 16. If the ear] A man had better be blind, lame, dumb, than deaf; because by the ear life enters into the soul, Isaiah 55:3.


Verse 17

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

Ver. 17. If the whole body, &c.] It is proper to God to be πανοφθαλμος, all eye; Sic spectat universos quasi singulos, sic singulos quasi solos.


Verse 18

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

Ver. 18. God hath set, &c.] And he, as only wise, doth all in number, weight, and measure. Shall we not rest in what he hath done as best "What can the man do that cometh after the king?" Ecclesiastes 2:12.


Verse 19

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

Ver. 19. Where were the body?] So the body political consisteth not of a physician and a physician (saith Aristotle), but of a physician and a husbandman, &c.


Verse 20

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

Ver. 20. But now are they many members, &c.] 1. Use; 2. Necessity; 3. Honour; 4. Comeliness, 5. Mutual consent, -commend these things. Let every man try his membership (1. If sociable with Christ and his people; 2. If useful and serviceable to the body; 3. If sensible and compassionate, &c., being himself also in the body), as was before advised.


Verse 21

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

Ver. 21. The eye cannot say, &c.] Superiors may not slight their inferiors, since they cannot be without them, as one time or other they will be forced to acknowledge. It was a saying of General Vere to the king of Denmark, that kings cared not for soldiers until such time as their crowns hung on the one side of their heads.


Verse 22

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

Ver. 22. Which seem to be, &c.] As the organs of nourishment, not so noble, but more necessary than those of the senses.


Verse 23

23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

Ver. 23. And those members] As the organs of excretion and generation, called less honourable and uncomely, non per se, sed comparate, comparatively in respect of those parts that are singularly comely.

Our uncomely parts, &c.] It was at the abomination of Baal-peor, or Priapus, that his worshippers said, Nos, pudore pulso, stamus sub Iove, caelis apertis, &c. God taught our first parents to make coverings to hide their nakedness, and the contrary is often threatened as a curse, Isaiah 3:17.


Verse 24

24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

Ver. 24. For our comely parts] A fair face needs no dress, is its own testimonial, a bait without a hook, said Socrates, δελεαρ ανευ αγκιστρου..


Verse 25

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

Ver. 25. Should have the same care] As if the heel do but ache, the whole condoleth and cureth, and careth; and yet without dividing care, that there might be no schism in the body.


Verse 26

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

Ver. 26. And whether one man suffer] This spiritual sympathy, mirum est quam frigide tractetur inter Christianos hodie, saith Aretius on this text. {See Trapp on "1 Corinthians 12:20"} {See Trapp on "1 Corinthians 12:27"} Luther in a certain epistle of his to Lampertus Thorn, a prisoner for Christ, thus writeth, Consolabor me quod vestra vincula men sunt, vestri carceres et ignes mei sunt; sunt vero, dum ea confiteor et praedico, vobisque simul compatior, et congratulor, that is, I doubt (and it is a grief to me) that I shall never have the honour of martyrdom as you have. But herein I can comfort myself, that your bonds are my bonds, your imprisonment and burning at a stake mine; for so they are so long as I confess and extol them; so long as I both suffer with you and rejoice with you. (Tom. ii. Epist.)


Verse 27

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Ver. 27. Now ye are, &c.] St Cyprian’s sympathy is remarkable, Cum singulis pectus meum copulo, moeroris et funeris pondera luctuosa participo; Cum plangentibus plango, cum deflentibus defleo. Hereby he showed himself a living member.


Verse 28

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Ver. 28. Diversities of tongues] This comes in last, either to bid check to their pride, who gloried so much in their many languages; or because he meant to say more to it in the words following.


Verse 29

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

Ver. 29. Are all teachers?] Yes, some would have it so, as in Alcibiades’ army all were leaders, no learners.


Verse 31

30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Ver. 31. Covet earnestly, &c.] ζηλουτε, ambite. This is the best ambition. Christians should strive to excel, and be the best at what they undertake. Melancthon saith that Frederick the elector of Saxony had cropped off the tops of all virtues.

A more excellent way] What was that? Charity to God and men, 1 Corinthians 13:1. Graces are better than gifts. A shopful of barrels enrich not, unless full of commodities. Gifts as to heaven are but the lumber of a Christian; it is grace maketh him rich toward God; and is therefore chiefly to be coveted. Care also is to be taken that we get not the spiritual rickets; grow big in the head (in gifts), decay in the vitals, i.e. in grace and the exercise of it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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